More than 100 Events for Members

By Loni Nannini

A good network means good business.

Tucson Metro Chamber hosts more than 100 networking events and programs annually for its members. 

“While our main focus is on advocacy, we have many, many members who join for a variety of other reasons such as networking and connecting with other businesses,” said Carrie Gilchrist, Chamber VP of membership relations. “We are the voice of business in Tucson, and we are working to better the business community locally.”

The opportunities run the gamut, including monthly breakfast meetings, happy hours, mixers, and speed networking; weekly mission-driven Advocacy Committee meetings; and annual events such as a regional gathering, a business summit, a holiday legislative reception and a University of Arizona Athletics mixer.

The Chamber’s signature event, the 27th annual Tucson Metro Chamber Copper Cactus Awards Presented by Wells Fargo, recognizes businesses and nonprofits for leadership and innovation.

Networking to New Heights

Innovative offerings include Good Morning Tucson, a high-energy monthly breakfast featuring five to seven speakers on topics such as the workforce, business resources, community events and policy. Through these “Lightning Talks,” each speaker is given just seven minutes per presentation to cover a broad range of ideas and concepts. 

Recent speakers include Arizona Bowl Executive Director Kym Adair, who discussed the new partnership with Snoop Dogg; a presentation about the benefits of hiring employees with disabilities by WorkAbility; talks highlighting La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the Tucson Airport Authority and others. Programs have also covered insurance needs, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“It is fast-paced, informative and educational,” said Gilchrist. “A lot of the information is unusual—these aren’t topics that you would typically think of—and you hear it all in an hour. We have had incredibly positive feedback.”

The breakfasts also offer unique interactions, said Kat Robey, owner of Let All Thrive, which provides mental health counseling for all ages. “These are power-packed conversations with awesome networking where you get breakfast and then move forward with your day.”

Ambassadors of Connection

The Chamber’s Ambassadors Program utilizes about 40 members who volunteer at events, meet and welcome new members, and assist with recruitment. Ambassadors also attend business openings and ribbon-cutting ceremonies and present new members with signature swag bags.

The Ambassadors act as extensions of the Chamber staff and as “buddies” to new members, said Robey, who became an Ambassador in 2020. 

“We understand what it means to be a business owner in today’s economy in Tucson,” Robey said. “Each new business helps the community thrive and Ambassadors are able to do a lot of business-to-business networking that is very beneficial.”

Super Summit

The Chamber’s popular annual Business Summit & Expo has attracted 400-plus attendees since it began three years ago. The high-powered event helps forge business connections while offering strategic information, said Michael Guymon, Chamber president and CEO.

The Spring 2024 event included sessions on access to capital; employee recruitment; employee retention/culture; and employment law. 

“These are things that businesses pay consultants and lawyers to assist them with and we provide the information as a service as part of the Summit and Expo. They learn very valuable information that would normally cost them a lot,” said Guymon. 

The Expo functions as a resource fair where members can generate new contacts, promote goods and services, and learn about current events. 

“Tucson is a small, close-knit town, and being a Tucson Metro Chamber member makes it more accessible. I am able to connect with other members on resources, supplier issues, and general small business issues,” said Erica Yngve, president/owner of Sonoran Stitch Factory & Postcraft Products and Manager of AZ Stitch Lab, a nonprofit that trains industrial sewing machine operators. She is also a member of the Chamber Public Policy Committee. 

“They do a great job of highlighting small businesses that otherwise would go unnoticed,” Yngve said. “Their annual Copper Cactus awards mean a lot to our community. They recognize the work of so many individuals, businesses and nonprofits that do good work here in Southern Arizona.”


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